Long Live Long Form

In a Mediabeat Interview (click image to view) with Michael Wolff, founder of Newser (“Read Less, Know More”), a news aggregator, Wolff explains: “We take lots of content and make it short, without ripping of someone’s headline or lead. We take a full story and very carefully reduce it to 65-200 words, using editorial skills. People have a need for shorter, faster information. We have to absorb more. The New York Times is a bore; they write for an older world.”

I agree that there is a need for places to get news fast and as a quick, easily digestible read. But reading long-form journalism is not “a bore” or meant for an “older world” (whatever that means) and far from obsolete. And I am sure, Mr. Wolff, that many of the articles that you reduce are written by these “old-world” journalists.

Want proof that long-form journalism is on the rise? Take as an example the news site ProPublica. Its readers like to read long stories, according to the results of ProPublica’s 2011 Reader Survey. Steve Meyers concludes in Poynter that “ProPublica’s not alone here. Long-form journalism is benefiting from new technologies (the iPad) and Web services (Instapaper, Read It Later), curating services (Longreads, Longform) and products (Kindle Singles, Byliner, The Atavist).”

So, Newser, your days might be numbered. Just skimming the surface is becoming the new bore.

We increasingly chose to read content, not just snippets, online. And tablets are exhilarating that pace. Not only do they entice online readers to read longer articles, but they also have an ever-growing impact on users’ willingness to pay for that content.

On that bright note, Happy New Year!

Giving Away Information for Free

“Giving away information for free on the Internet while still charging 50 cents to $1 for the print version of the paper was one of the most fundamentally flawed business decisions of the past 25 years. Newspapers told their paying customers that the information truly had no value. They told their paying customers that they were suckers. Why would anyone pay 50 cents for something he or she can get for free? This poorly conceived and obviously flawed strategy has helped put the newspaper industry into its current financial condition and hastened the demise of many publications.”

Paul MacArthur on future of papers | Future of Journalism

Print to Web Transition: Where’s My Fair Pay?

NYTimes article by Michael Winerip “Keeping The Plates Spinning” (2/19/10) about the transitions from print to web — Quote: “We’re asking more of them, and frankly we’re not paying them more. But they do it, because we’re a team and they’re nice people.”

Not only that: They are looking for writers “who’d be willing to …write, unpaid, in exchange for links to their sites and mentions of their businesses in an accompanying bio.”

Here is another take from Newsosaur, “Stop the Exploitation of Journalists,” urging veteran and aspiring journalists “to stop participating in their own exploitation by working for a pittance – or, worse, giving away their valuable services for free…The reason is simple: If they don’t put a value on what they do, then no one else will either.”

People, when are we finally done with being “nice” and eager for a free byline and demand fair pay for our work?!